Jazz colors, fortunes change over time

Published: Saturday, Oct. 23 2010 8:00 p.m. MDT

Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams talks to the ref.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Since the inception of the franchise in 1974, the Jazz logo has been as steady as Jerry Sloan, Karl Malone and John Stockton.

Utah's new-look retro uniforms will feature just the fifth color scheme and logo in the franchise's 36-year history.

The logo started as a J-note in New Orleans, and remained virtually the same when the team moved to Utah — other than swapping New Orleans for Utah next to the J, of course. The logo stayed the same until 1996 when a mountain background with flashier colors replaced the J-note. The Jazz made those uniforms and color scheme famous in their two NBA Finals appearances.

Utah changed its look again in 2004, mostly by tweaking its color scheme. It was a fitting change, as the longtime faces of the franchise — Stockton and Malone — were gone.

The different logos and color schemes were distinctive in their own ways and on uniforms worn by Hall-of-Famers, possible future Hall-of-Famers, busts and bench warmers. Here is a look back at the best players to wear the various unis, and the high notes and sour notes in Utah Jazz logo history.

New Orleans Jazz 1974-79 Team Colors: Purple, Green, Gold

Best player: Pistol Pete Maravich

The most prolific scorer in NCAA history at 44.2 points per game, Maravich excited Jazz fans when he was acquired from the Atlanta Hawks prior to the franchise's first season in New Orleans. He played in New Orleans all five seasons the franchise was located there with his best year coming in 1974-75. He averaged 31.1 points per game and scored 68 against the Knicks in a game at the Superdome that season.

Sloan on Maravich: "I played against Pistol Pete. He was a terrific player."

High note: The Jazz never made the playoffs in their original uniforms in their original city. Record-wise, their best season was in 1977-78 when they finished 39-43.

Sour note: The Jazz's entire final season in New Orleans was sour. Maravich was hampered by injuries, Truck Robinson was traded, and the Jazz finished with the worst record in the league. They packed up and moved to Utah after the 1978-79 season.

Utah Jazz 1979-96 Team Colors: Purple, Green, Gold

Best player: Adrian Dantley

Jazz fans could count on Dantley for consistency and scoring in the franchise's first seven seasons in Utah. Dantley averaged scoring more than 30 points per game in four straight seasons. He won two scoring titles, and made the all-star team six times. He helped the Jazz to a Midwest Division championship and the playoffs in his fifth season with them in 1983-84. He left the NBA as the ninth-leading scorer in NBA history with 23,177 points.

Sloan on Dantley: "Adrian certainly had a big impact on this franchise because he gave them a legitimate all-star player. That helped get the attention of a lot of people. The team grew into respectability."

High note: The Jazz arrived and were the darlings of the NBA during their second-round playoff series against the mighty Lakers in 1988. The Jazz stunningly took a 2-1 series lead against L.A., which was the reigning NBA champions and led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. After falling behind 3-2 in the series, Utah blew the Lakers out in Game 6, 108-80. The Lakers took Game 7 on their way to back-to-back titles.

Sour note: The Jazz seemingly turned the corner in their series with the Lakers, winning 51 games and the Midwest Division title the following season. But their next playoff appearance was a disaster, as the Jazz, a No. 2 seed, got swept by the small-ball Warriors 3-0 in a first-round series.

Utah Jazz 1996-2004 Team Colors: Light Blue, Copper, Black

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